Carlos Santana is back in the Indians’ lineup tonight after missing the past 10 days with a concussion and he’s batting cleanup, but manager Manny Acta has him in the designated hitter spot instead of catching.
Santana started at DH and homered yesterday in a minor-league rehab game to convince the Indians that he’s ready to return after taking a foul ball to the face mask on May 25.
Prior to the concussion Santana hit .245 with five homers and a .747 OPS in 43 games while making 31 starts at catcher, three starts at first base, and three starts at DH.
In his absence Lou Marson took over as the primary catcher, with Luke Carlin backing him up.
Nationals starter Max Scherzer bunted a ball into his face during batting practice on Tuesday, breaking his nose in the process. He ended up with a gnarly looking shiner around his right eye, making him appear a bit like Terminator. Scherzer still took the ball to start the second game of Wednesday night’s doubleheader against the Phillies.
Despite the injury, Scherzer was incredibly effective, limiting the Phillies to four hits and two walks across seven shutout innings, striking out 10 batters in the process. He might even have had some extra adrenaline going, as he averaged 96.2 MPH on his fastball, his highest average fastball velocity in a game since September 2012, per MLB.com’s Jamal Collier. The Nationals provided Scherzer with just one run of support, coming on a Brian Dozier solo home run off of Jake Arrieta in the second inning, but it was enough.
Wander Suero worked a scoreless top of the eighth with a pair of strikeouts. Victor Robles added a solo homer off of Pat Neshek in the bottom half. Closer Sean Doolittle took over in the ninth, working a 1-2-3 frame to give the Nats their 2-0 victory.
Over his last six starts, Scherzer now has a 0.88 ERA with a 59/8 K/BB ratio across 41 innings. He has gone six innings, struck out at least nine batters, and held the opposition to two or fewer runs in each of those six starts.